Welcome! If you are here, it means that you are ready to take your site to the next level by installing powerful, useful essential WordPress plugins and getting rid of ones you don’t need (in other words you can code in) so you can grow your site.
Having too many plugins slows your site down and having plugins that are not coded well will also slow your site down. So use only the essential WordPress Plugins and have your site run faster, better and be more secure.
This list includes free and paid WordPress plugins because sometimes you just need to spend a few dollars to have a really great plugin that will do its job. I would love to hear your thoughts about any/all of these and what I may have missed.
Soon, I will be going over how to add things like images, links, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc to your sidebar without plugins and how much better your site will run without the added code the plugin brings, so be watching for that post.
If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check out HOW TO START A BLOG IN 5 EASY STEPS and get a bunch of insider tips and tricks about blogging that I recently shared.
Essential WordPress plugins to grow your site
- Akismet Anti-Spam – Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against our global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. You can review the comment spam it catches on your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.
- All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets – Easy implementation of schema types like Review, Events, Recipes, Article, Products, Services etc
- Black Studio TinyMCE Widget – This plugin adds a new Visual Editor widget type that allows you to insert rich text and media objects in your sidebars with no hassle. With Black Studio TinyMCE Widget you will be able to edit your widgets in a WYSIWYG manner using the native WordPress TinyMCE editor, just like you do in posts and pages. And if you are a developer you may still switch back and forth from Visual to HTML mode.
- Spam protection, AntiSpam, FireWall by CleanTalk – No CAPTCHA, no questions, no animal counting, no puzzles, no math and no spam bots. Universal AntiSpam plugin.
- Contact Form 7 – Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.
- Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress – Easy Social Share Buttons automatically adds beautiful share buttons to all your content with support of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Digg, StumbleUpon, VKontakte, Tumblr, Reddit, Print, E-mail and more than 40 other social networks and mobile messengers. Easy show on 27+ automatic display locations or use powerful shortcodes. Compatible with most popular e-commerce plugins, social plugins and affiliate plugins.
- Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin improves SEO using sitemaps for best indexation by search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and others.
- iThemes Security – Take the guesswork out of WordPress security. iThemes Security offers 30+ ways to lock down WordPress in an easy-to-use WordPress security plugin.
- Jetpack by WordPress.com – Bring the power of the WordPress.com cloud to your self-hosted WordPress. Jetpack enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users.
- Simple Social Icons – A simple CSS and SVG driven social icons widget.
- Ultimate Nofollow – A suite of tools that gives you complete control over the rel=nofollow tag on an individual link basis.
- WP Super Cache – Very fast caching plugin for WordPress.
- Yoast SEO – The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
Some plugins do more than one thing
If you are using Jetpack – you won’t need Contact Form 7, one is already built in. Also, if you buy the Easy Social Share Buttons (ESSB) plugin you don’t need to worry about Simple Social Icons. ESSB has one built in. There is another plugin called W3 Total Cache that works great – but I have run into several issues with it not playing nice with others (other plugins) and also having some other issues – so I went with WP Super Cache instead.
You can also sign up for a FREE Cloudflare account that will help with caching and keeping your site live if something happens on the backend and it goes down. Which reminds me to remind you to BACK UP YOUR SITE! Even if you have to pay your hosting company a little extra, have your site backed up. Also, go in and download a backup at least once a month. There are several companies (like Jetpack) that will back up your site for a small fee. Do it. It’s so worth it.
I also wanted to share a list of Bonus WordPress plugins that we have used and liked (not necessarily all at the same time). You may find some of these you will use occasionally to clean up your site or make it for visually appealing.
Bonus WordPress plugins
- Broken Link Checker – This plugin will monitor your blog looking for broken links and let you know if any are found.
- Cooked – Cooked is the absolute best way to create & display recipes with WordPress. SEO optimized (rich snippets), galleries, cooking timers, printable recipes and much more.
- Fanciest Author Box – Premium author bio plugin that is very easy to use and customize. (you can see this in action at the bottom of this post)
- Inline Related Posts – Puts related posts INSIDE your content.
- Redirection – Redirection is the most popular redirect manager for WordPress. With it you can easily manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors, and generally tidy up any loose ends your site may have. This can help reduce errors and improve your site ranking.
- Regenerate Thumbnails – Allows you to regenerate all thumbnail sizes for one or more images that have been uploaded to your Media Library.
- Term Management Tools – If you need to reorganize your tags and categories, this plugin will make it easier for you. (this plugin is not maintained, so use it and deactivate it when you are done, then uninstall it.)
- WP Post Navigation – Shows Previous and Next Post Links at the Top or Bottom of a Post.
- Membership – Transform WordPress into a fully functional membership site. Provide access to downloads, online content, videos, forums, support and more through a flexible membership system.
- WP Smush It – Resize, optimize, optimize and compress all of your images with the incredibly powerful and 100% free WordPress image smusher.
- Photo Gallery – If you’re looking for a user-friendly and feature-rich plugin to add responsive galleries and albums to your website, Photo Gallery plugin can be the best option for you.
Be patient and test what works
Setting up and maintaining a site can be a lot of work, get frustrating and hard and stress you out. If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will do my best to help. If you have a plugin that you love that I didn’t mention, I would love for you to leave a comment with the information so I can research it. Likewise, if something is listed that you don’t like, I would also like to hear about it.